bodily injury claims

Roadway Projects and Bodily Injury Claims

In 2023, Great American’s Risk Management Newsletter Series focused on contract provisions and ways to tighten your contract language to best protect you and your firm.  This year we will be concentrating on trending projects that can present high exposure situations for design professionals.

Our first topic of 2024 will focus on Roadway Projects, which tend to have an expensive project price resulting in expensive claims, ranging from cost overruns and delay claims to catastrophic bodily injury and wrongful death lawsuits. The potential and/or ultimate exposure facing a Design Professional in these types of claims can be excessive. Poor
contract documentation that provides a broad scope of services including inspections and construction management, undocumented scope changes, and lack of communication among project participants are all factors which give rise to claims.

This article will discuss a bodily injury/wrongful death situation arising from a roadway project. Roadway signage is frequently at issue, and common allegations against Design Professionals include insufficient or improperly placed warning signs located in or around the construction zone, the use of inaccurate signage that causes confusion to drivers, and/or the design of the construction zone requiring motorists to make sudden maneuvers.

Claim Study: Wrongful Death at a Roadway Project

Let’s consider this set of facts: A collision between a dump truck and another vehicle occurred about 1 mile before the start of a 14 mile-construction zone where nightly lane closures reduced the highway to a single 12-foot lane in each direction. Speed was reduced from 70 to 45 mph.  The dump truck driver failed to slow as he approached a construction zone and collided with the smaller vehicle killing the driver of the car. Police statements indicate that there was signage for 20 miles down the highway warning of the construction and slowing traffic. The Design Professional, who was the Traffic Engineer for a portion of the roadway, was sued (along with many others) for wrongful death of the driver.

Continue Reading HERE.

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